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Pancreatic, liver disease shift up on risk list as research brings more cures to other cancers

Liver cancer can be curable when caught early so get screened, advises Loyola hepatologist

MAYWOOD, Ill. (May 21, 2014) - Money changes everything. To date, lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers have accounted for the largest number of cancer deaths. In response, these cancers currently receive the most research funding from the National Cancer Institute and are highlighted through public health campaigns, special event fundraising and celebrity spokespeople.

And the extra money and attention is working to end those cancers and move other cancers up in frequency of cause of death.

Cancer Research reports that, “By 2030 more people will be diagnosed with breast, prostate and lung cancers than with pancreatic cancers, but more pancreatic cancer and liver cancer patients will die of their disease."

What should people do?  Get screened if you are at risk.

“Primary liver cancer, also called hepatocellular carcinoma, is curable when caught early, so if you have high risk factors such as cirrhosis, particularly cirrhosis from the hepatitis C virus, you should get screened,” said Steve Scaglione, MD, board certified hepatologist at Loyola University Health System. Hepatologists are specialists in treating liver disease.

“Unlike a colonoscopy, liver cancer screening is noninvasive. It’s just an ultrasound, every six months,” he said.

If liver cancer is diagnosed, curative treatment options are available, including surgery and liver transplantation.

There are more than 100 kinds of liver disease, including cirrhosis, alcoholic-induced liver disease, fatty liver disease and hepatitis. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer in America.  More than 5 million people are living with hepatitis, which has been called a silent epidemic because it often is not detected until it has spread to the liver.

Screening for hepatitis C is not only recommended by public health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but is urged by lawmakers. In Colorado, a bill was signed into law on May 20, 2014, funding hepatitis screening. Specifically, hepatitis C testing is recommended for baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1964) because they are estimated to be five times more likely to have contracted the disease.

The Loyola hepatology team offers treatment at 11 Loyola locations in Illinois and also conducts research and research trials to improve prevention and treatment.

“As new resources are devoted to these less common but more deadly forms of cancer, there is a higher likelihood of research advances to improve patient outcomes,” said Susan Uprichard, PhD, associate professor and director of hepatology research at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Patients who seek treatment from an academic medical center such as Loyola have the advantage of not only receiving the most progressive care, but they also have the potential to participate in life-saving research trials.”

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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Stasia Thompson
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